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Labor troubadours Dumovich, Kanter will lift your spirits

winkes-kenBy KEN WINKES

(Oct. 11, 2013) — Discouraged by the unending war on workers? Is the barrage of ALEC-inspired anti-worker legislation, even here in Washington state, getting you down? Think the plutocrats have all the high-powered weapons? That you don’t stand a chance against their bundles of money?

Not to worry; we live in the age of electronic miracles. Whatever the problem, there’s an app for it, and the perfect apps for re-charging your labor batteries go by the names of Mike S. Dumovich and Gary Kanter.

If you’re a bit down in the mouth, exhausted by the struggle, and need a shot of energy that lasts more than five hours, the music of these two Puget Sound labor troubadours is the perfect pick-me-up. Just click and listen to a song or two and your sagging spirit will soar and laughter will return to your life.

Want a sample of the elixir they offer? Here’s Mike’s latest, “Don’t Feed the Greed (of the 1%),” which he composed and performed for the Skagit County Labor-Dem Work Group:


Gary’s take on the same theme, “Right to Work is Wrong,” is among the performances you can find here.

Take a listen, tap your feet, then come back to learn more about these two talented men.

dumovich-mikeCurrently the chair of the 39th District Democratic Party, Mike is actively seeking to revitalize the party’s traditional relationship with organized labor. He comes from a family that homesteaded on southwest Washington’s Wishkah River in the 1880’s, his mother raised in a logging camp. He first picked up a guitar the during the 1960’s folk revolution, while he was in the Army Security Agency. Since then, throughout a career that included work for Sears and in the criminal justice system, and years as a CEO of a private work-release program, music has been a large part of his life.

Mike founded The Hokum Blues Band and The New Hokum Blues Band and played single gigs for years. He became a union activist during research for a DVD on the history and music of the Wobblies (the IWW), whose own troubadour, Joe Hill, still lives in song. Since retirement Mike has produced a CD and 4 DVD’s and has four more tunes in the works.

Gary, a native of New York City and product of what Arlo Guthrie termed the “Folk Scare of the 60’s,” arrived in the Northwest the early 1970’s. Much of the previous years had been spent traveling “BMT” (by my thumb) throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and living in such diverse places as Kodiak, Alaska, and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Instead of taking photos, he documented his travels with songs.  “The big difference,” he says,” is that you can burn bad photos.”

kanter-garyLike many folkies of his generation, Gary’s primary concerns when he was learning his craft were the civil rights and peace movements.  “Labor was a settled issue,” he says.

Gary left music to raise two daughters with his Okanogan Valley-born wife, Mary. During that time he worked in nonprofits, providing employment opportunities to people with disabilities

Throughout his hiatus, Gary remained active in local politics and watched with concern as the country drifted into full-scale war economy and increasing economic inequality. He became especially alarmed at the concerted attacks upon the unions and working people. One of his first projects following his return to songwriting and performing was organizing two Seattle-based concerts to raise funds for the Wisconsin recall elections, which were streamed live to Wisconsin. He and Mike, along with American Federation of Musicians brother, Dan Roberts, organized and performed a traveling “An Evening With Joe Hill & Friends.” show. Most recently, Dan has organized two concerts in support of the striking berry pickers in Skagit Valley.

Now that you’ve met Gary and Mike, labor’s flesh and blood aps for renewing the faith, commitment and solidarity America’s workers, go on, share them, pass them around. These musical terrorists are too much fun to keep to ourselves.

Also check out and share:

Don’t mourn, organize!

I’m Gonna Marry G.E.

In Mike’s words, “We need to Agitate, Educate, and Organize.” And along the way, we can listen to Gary and Mike’s music… and share their anger, laughter, and fighting spirit. Just like milk, it’ll do a body good.

Gary and Mike are available for live performances. Contact them at and


Ken Winkes is a retired teacher and high school principal.

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